Having watched the Met Opera Don Giovanni yesterday, I decided today that I had had enough culture. So, on a rainy day I sat in my study reading a detective novel. Trash for pure entertainment!
A side note on Don Giovanni: great singing, great acting, but such a gloomy production. Why do those Met designers insist on keeping the lights so low that it could be midnight through the whole opera? Do they think that gloomy lighting adds to the “culture” of what is after all pure entertainment: a randy guy brought low by the ladies he has seduced and the rape victim’s father whom he murders?
The victims of Don Giovanni’s amorous attentions had no recourse other than self-help. By contrast, miners have lawyers aplenty to protect them from predators. Most miners I know deprecate lawyers. Most have a nasty divorce that still stings. Or they have a will disputed; a drug charge not fully exonerated; a speeding ticket not forgiven; or some dispute with a merchant who unreasonably wanted payment. And the cost of the lawyer to protect one’s interest in these instance still echos.
Take a quick look around the average mine, and you won’t see any lawyers. But they are there, aplenty, quietly protecting the mine’s interest. Or sometimes attacking the mine. More likely the lawyers are in a high, glass tower in a distant city piling up expensive hours. Nobody on the mine will ever question their bills for the lawyers deal with matters of great import to the mine.
The novel I read today is by one of my favorite lawyer-writers, namely Michael Connelly. You may have seen the movie The Lincoln Lawyer which is based on one of his novels. Today’s novel was The Reversal. The defence lawyer from his previous novels teams up in this story with his ex-wife to prosecute a killer who has been let out of jail by soft-minded judges (the kind we have so many of in British Columbia.)
Any rate, the story wonders all over Los Angeles from the Santa Monica pier, along the I10, to the court room. Not sure at the end if this is a detective novel, a court-room drama, or a family tragedy. Makes no difference; it is a good read, and epitomizes the lawyer’s duty: present the best case you can for your client.
I am not advocating that as a young, newly-graduated lawyer you go work for a mining company. But then, why not? From what I read there is a surplus of young lawyers. Few of them will make those high-rise glass towers their home. If you look at the salary statistics, lawyers, on average, earn less than mining engineers. Might as well join the enemy as well as get a salary that in Canada at least put you in the top one to two percent wage earners.
I have post-graduate law degree from Wits. I studied for it as it was fun and easy and my girlfriend was still studying and I had no desire to go out to do an honest day’s work, when I could read those fascinating stories that are at the heart of every court case. Thus I still read everything I can find by Michael Connelly and Jame Patterson. Not to mention Agatha Christie and P D James.
I have been privileged over the years to work with many lawyers defending or attacking. Cases have involved mining, environmental cleanup, payout for damages suffered in earthquakes, and high rentals rendered nothing by pervasive mold. None of these major projects features on my resume; the lawyers still won’t let me write about success—for they have all been successes—for we worked with the best lawyers. They have all been smart, fast, insightful, courageous, aggressive, demanding, and ultimately successful. They have cost the mining companies plenty, but the cost has been nothing by comparison with the cost implications of the win.
There is an amazing institution called the Rocky Mountain Law Institute that focuses on law in mining. They publish great documents detailing mining law; they hold fun conferences; and give great seminars. This is where many of the lawyers in mining meet.
If you are young lawyer caught in drafting wills or divorces, or defending drug addicts, then my advice is take a look at the Rocky Mountain Law Institute and go lawyering in mining. Like all professional work, there will be periods of repetition, boredom, and hard work. But the cases will be hard, well-funded, and well-fought. Law-work at its best.
And if you are truly talented and hard-working, you too can get a job in a glittering city, in a glass tower, with a one-percent income (in Canada above $170,000 a year) and retain old-farts like me to help with the technical aspects of knotty cases.
Then on Saturdays you can go to the opera. Fight your way past the hoard that now-days crowds cinemas to watch the Met productions and get a glimpse of pure evil set to intoxicating music.
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